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Latest ITER Newsline

  • Worksite | First pillars for the crane hall

    For the overhead cranes to deliver machine components into the Tokamak assembly pit, the rails that carry them need to be extended some 80 metres beyond the tem [...]

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  • Transport | 300 tonnes of equipment on its way to ITER

    A specially designed assembly tool and elements of the cryostat and vacuum vessel thermal shields are part of the shipments travelling now from Korea to ITER. W [...]

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  • Fusion world | A new tokamak in town

    After EAST in China and WEST in France, another of the cardinal points of the compass has been chosen to name a tokamak. Introducing NORTH—the NORdic Tokamak de [...]

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  • Opportunities | Bringing the ITER Business Forum to Washington

    Every second year, a two-day ITER Business Forum is held to invite existing and potential suppliers for the ITER Project—laboratories, universities, and compani [...]

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  • World Energy Congress | Fusion "at a time of transition"

    In the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is often referred to as a tourism hotspot that combines luxury and ancient traditions. In September, Abu Dhabi was in the [...]

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Of Interest

See archived entries

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Microsoft co-founder visits ITER

Laban Coblentz, Head of Communication

He co-founded of one of the most iconic companies of the last half-century. His philanthropy and technology innovation has made him a champion in the fight against Ebola ... a primary funder of major brain science and artificial intelligence research ... and a leader of multiple deep-sea wreck discovery and recovery missions. He is the executive producer of several award-winning films. He owns three professional sports teams. And he is a passionate guitarist.

So why would Paul Allen of Microsoft fame decide to carve out time from his very full life to visit ITER?

''A visit to ITER was my chance to see preparations for the birth of a star on Earth,'' said Paul Allen (left) on his recent tour of the ITER worksite. (Click to view larger version...)
''A visit to ITER was my chance to see preparations for the birth of a star on Earth,'' said Paul Allen (left) on his recent tour of the ITER worksite.

In Allen's words, "I was at the Cannes Film Festival, supporting the new Star Wars film. A visit to ITER was my chance to see preparations for the birth of a star on Earth."

A rapid review of Allen's diverse investment and philanthropic portfolios—from his 1975 co-founding of Microsoft with Bill Gates to his most recent ventures in bioscience, environmental conservation, and microgrids in Africa—reveals a fertile mind driven by curiosity and a remarkably broad range of interests. This includes fusion. Through his company, Vulcan, Inc., Allen has long been an investor in TAE Technologies, formerly Tri Alpha Energy, a 20-year-old privately funded effort to develop aneutronic¹ fusion power based on a field-reversed configuration.

For ITER, it was an honour for Director-General Bernard Bigot and chief scientist Tim Luce to host Allen and his team. Global progress in ITER's manufacturing and construction activities was a central point of interest—as was the set of remaining engineering and science hurdles that must be addressed to bring tokamak fusion to commercial fruition.

Several of those challenges, interestingly, lie in fields of Allen's expertise: big data, high performance computing, control software, artificial intelligence, and signal processing. Who knows? Perhaps our paths will cross again.

¹A field-reversed configuration differs from a tokamak in that the magnetic confinement of the plasma is controlled by eddy currents reversing the axial field, rather than by using a solenoid to generate an ambient field.


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